This month we are joining together as a church to faithfully seek God first and trust in His power to create long lasting impact in our lives, church and world. Beginning February 4th, we will unite together for 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Follow along with us everyday using the guides and materials below.
Sometimes it seems there are times when God is trying to get our attention. What if God is trying to get your attention? What if God is calling your name? What if God is trying to help you take a turn in life right now? In this 21 days of prayer and fasting, it is not only possible but probable that God will speak into your life and use this as a turning point. In every situation, whether good or bad, we try to pray before we act. Many times people act first and then want God to bail them out of that situation, but prayer should be our first response, not our last resort.
Understanding the necessity of prayer is not enough. In order for it to become a part of our life, it needs to become something we look forward to doing. We’re convinced most people don’t enjoy prayer because they have never been taught how to pray. That’s where this simple prayer guide can help. Using several prayer models out of the Bible and having some guides to make prayer more personal, this booklet is designed to bring joy into your time with God.
Following this guide, you will also find a 21-day personal prayer outline. When you discover the beauty of daily conversation with Him, you’ll experience the presence of God that will change your life.
Once you learn how to pray, prayer can become a part of everyday life. And then …
Prayer changes everything!
How do we make prayer a part of our everyday life? We can learn from three things that Jesus did…
A CERTAIN TIME
Jesus got up very early in the morning to spend time with His Heavenly Father. In order for prayer to work, we should do the same. Make a daily appointment with God and keep it.
A CERTAIN PLACE
Jesus had a prayer place. Your prayer place needs to be an undistracted environment where you can pray out loud and perhaps have some worship music playing in the background.
A CERTAIN PLAN
Go into your prayer time with a plan. If it changes that’s fine. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He gave His disciples a prayer outline. We call it the Lord’s Prayer. This outline along with several other tools are available in this booklet.
“Our Father in heaven…”
1. CONNECT WITH GOD RELATIONALLY
God loves for us to call Him our Father. Establish your intimate relationship with Him and thank Him for the relationship you have with Him.
“…Hallowed be Your Name…”
2. WORSHIP HIS NAME
What are His Names?
“…Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”
3. PRAY HIS AGENDA FIRST
“…Give us this day our daily bread…”
4. DEPEND ON HIM FOR EVERYTHING
Ask God for what you want and need and then trust Him for the answer.
“…Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…”
5. GET YOUR HEART RIGHT WITH GOD AND PEOPLE
Ask God to check your heart and motives. Receive His forgiveness for any area that He brings to mind.
Forgive anyone who has offended you in any way. You can even forgive people in advance.
“…And do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one…”
6. ENGAGE IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Take your stand against the enemy and fight the good fight of faith. Every lie that the enemy has told you should be replaced with the truth of God’s Word.
“…For yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever.”
7. EXPRESS FAITH IN GOD’S ABILITY
End your prayer time by reminding yourself of God’s ability. Return to praise and make your faith declarations.
The Tabernacle was the dwelling place of God where He met His people. As they entered the Tabernacle, they passed through seven stations as a protocol to God’s presence. Today, these same steps can help us to connect with God and lead us through important elements of prayer.
1. THE OUTER COURT – THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE
As the people of God entered the Tabernacle, they came in with thanksgiving on their lips. Thanking God for all the blessings in your life is a great way to begin. Every day, think of a fresh reason why you love and appreciate God.
2. THE BRAZEN ALTAR – THE CROSS OF JESUS
In the Old Testament, everyone who had committed sin had to bring animal sacrifices. Jesus paid for all your sins once and for all. You simply need to receive the benefits of what Jesus did for you.
3. THE LAVER – CLEANSING AND PREPARING
The next step in the Tabernacle was a bowl of water where people could wash. Checking your hearts and motives and then surrendering your life to God is an important part of daily prayer. Here are some ways to keep your heart right with God.
4. THE CANDLESTICK – THE HOLY SPIRIT
The next piece of furniture in the Tabernacle was a seven- branched golden candlestick. The fire represents the Holy Spirit. Every day you should invite the presence of the Holy Spirit into your life.
You should also ask God to give you spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).
5. THE TABLE OF SHEWBREAD – THE WORD OF GOD
A table with twelve loaves of bread represents the importance of reading God’s Word for daily sustenance. With this in mind, here are ways to nourish your soul:
6. THE ALTAR OF INCENSE – WORSHIP
A small altar of burning incense stood at the entrance to the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence dwelt. This altar represents worship. The people of God literally entered God’s presence worshipping the Names of God, including:
7. THE ARK OF THE COVENANT – INTERCESSION
The final place in the Tabernacle was the place where God’s presence dwelt. It was there that the priest interceded on behalf of the people. In the New Testament, you and I are all called priests and instructed to intercede for others.
Prayer is not only communion with God; it is confrontation with the enemy. These prayers are very helpful in spiritual warfare.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
THE ARMOR OF GOD PRAYER
(based on Ephesians 6:13-17)
“Thank You, Lord, for my salvation. I receive it in a new and fresh way from You and I declare that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ and the place I have in Your kingdom. I wear Your righteousness today against all condemnation and corruption. Cover me with Your holiness and purity—defend me from all assaults against my heart. Lord, I put on the belt of truth. I choose a lifestyle of honesty and integrity. Expose the lies I have believed, and show me the truths I need today. I choose to live for the Gospel in every moment. Show me where You are working and lead me to it. Give me strength to walk daily with You. I believe that You are powerful against every lie and assault of the enemy. You have good in store for me. Nothing is coming today
that can overcome me because You are with me. Holy Spirit, show
me the truths of the Word of God that I will need to counter the traps of the enemy. Bring those Scriptures to mind today. Finally, Holy Spirit, I agree to walk in step with You in everything as my spirit communes with You in prayer throughout the day.”
THE WEAPONS OF WARFARE PRAYER
(based on 2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
“Father, Your Word says that no weapon formed against me shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). Therefore I declare that no weapon formed against me prospers this day or any day to come in Jesus’ name. Your Word says that trouble will not arise a second time (Nahum 1:9). Therefore I declare that Satan cannot make trouble for me again, in this manner, as he did in the past in Jesus’ name. I declare all of these prayers accomplished and brought to pass by trusting you through faith and expectation in the name of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, I confess to You all of my sins this day, yesterday and every day past. I repent and renounce them, those known and unknown, those of omission and commission, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. I lay down at Your feet
all of the sins of the flesh, the tongue, and of the heart, and all unholy thoughts and actions. Thank You, Lord, for shedding Your precious blood for me.
I stand on Your Word. The enemy is driven out from before me, above me, around me, and below me; from my home, workplace, church and its ministries, children, and loved ones; from my works and labors, land, and my presence. I declare that he is not able to stand against me, and his works are taken captive and destroyed. No weapon formed against me will prosper, for the Spirit of the Lord shall raise a standard against them. I declare all of these things accomplished by Your Word. Jesus, my Lord, I give You thanksgiving, praise, glory, honor and worship for Your righteousness and holiness given to me by Your Word on my behalf.”
(based on 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, 10:3-5; Romans 12:1-2)
“Heavenly Father, I bow in worship and praise before You. I cover myself with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ as my protection. I surrender myself completely and unreservedly in every area of my life to You. I submit myself only to the true and living God and refuse any involvement of the enemy in my life. I choose to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I pull down every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ. I pray and thank you for a sound mind, the mind of Christ.
Today and every day I ask for protection over my spouse; each of my children; our immediate family members, relatives, friends, acquaintances and myself. I also ask today for protection during all of our travels; for our provision, finances, possessions, health, safety, and welfare. I put all of these things under the covering of Your precious blood and declare that Satan cannot touch them, on this day or any day to come.”
GENERAL CONFESSION PRAYER
(based on Romans 10:10; James 5:16; I John 1:7-9, 3:8)
“Lord Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God. You are the Messiah, come in the flesh to destroy the works of the devil. You died on the cross for my sins and rose again the third day from the dead. I now confess all my sins and repent. I receive your forgiveness and ask you to cleanse me from all sin. Thank You for redeeming me, cleansing me, justifying me, and sanctifying me in Your blood.”
(based on Matthew 6:14-15; Leviticus 19:18)
“Lord, I have a confession to make. I have not loved, but have resented certain people and have unforgiveness in my heart. I call upon You, Lord, to help me forgive them. I do now forgive (name them). I also forgive and accept myself in the name of Jesus Christ.”
(based on Proverbs 11:2, 16:18, 26:12; 1 Timothy 3:6)
“Father, I come to You in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know pride is an abomination to You. I renounce anything that would cause me to have pride in my heart in dealing with other people. I renounce these and turn away from them. I humble myself before You and come to You as a little child.“
Study Proverbs 6:16-19 and remember that fasting is a means by which a person humbles himself before the Lord.
GENERATIONAL BONDAGE PRAYER
(based on Exodus 20:4-6, 34:7; Numbers 14:18)
“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I now renounce, break, and loose myself from all bondages or bonds of physical or mental illness upon me, my family or family line as the result of parents or any other ancestors. I thank You, Lord, for setting me free.”
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4
Pray for those in authority and those under your authority.
THOSE I INFLUENCE:
Biblical fasting involves abstaining from eating (and/or drinking) for spiritual purposes.
In the Old Testament, Israel celebrated certain annual fasts, the most prominent being the Day of Atonement. There were also occasional fasts tied to specific historical events, sometimes individual and sometimes corporate. Here are a few of the occasions for fasting: at a time of grief (I Sam. 31:13; Nehemiah 1:4), at a time of repentance (I Sam 7:6; I Kings 21:27), as an expression of humility (Ezra 8:21; Psalm 69:10), and as an expression of a need for God’s guidance and help. What all of these fasts share in common is that they were an expression of dependence on God.
Several New Testament passages give us insight about fasting.
Fasting teaches us that God’s Word nourishes us: Matthew 4:1-4 records the only example of Jesus fasting, just prior to His being tempted in the wilderness. He faced temptation with these words, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3-5 which talks about the 40 years Israel spent in the wilderness, depending daily on manna to sustain them. He says that God humbled them and let them be hungry in order to teach them to depend on God’s Word to sustain them. By His example of fasting, Jesus reminds us that food alone can’t sustain us. We need to be nourished by God’s Word.
Fasting teaches us that doing God’s will sustains us: John 4:31-35 records Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. When the disciples return, they encourage Jesus to eat. He responds by saying, “I have food to eat that you know not of.” Then He adds, “My food is to do the will of the Father.” Again, Jesus reminds us that food alone is not enough. We are sustained by doing God’s will.
Fasting teaches us that Jesus Himself sustains us: In John 6:48-50 Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.” We see this pictured symbolically in the bread and the cup of the Lord’s supper. Jesus is the source of eternal life. Fasting is feasting on Jesus.
Jesus assumed that fasting would be a part of His disciple’s spiritual life. In Matthew 6:16-18, He says, “when you fast,” not “if you fast.” He warns us not to fast to impress people, but to be near to the heart of God.
What is the purpose of fasting?
Fasting is designed to intensify our dependence on God by weakening our dependence on food and other things. How does it do that?
Fasting reveals and heals our dependence on food (and other things) to fill the discomfort caused by low self-esteem, unfulfilling work, unloving relationships, uncontrollable circumstances, etc. It removes the false peace derived from the pleasure of eating.
Richard Foster says, “More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface. If pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately. David writes, “I humbled my soul with fasting” (Psalm 69:10). Anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear—if they are within us, they will surface during fasting.”
Fasting teaches us that we can go without getting what we want and survive. Fasting can free us from having to have what we want. Therefore, fasting can teach moderation or self-control, not only in relation to food, but in other areas as well. It teaches contentment. (I Timothy 6:6)
Fasting expresses and deepens our hunger for God. Richard Foster says, “Fasting reminds us that we are sustained “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God:” (Matt. 4:4). Food does not sustain us; God sustains us. In Christ, “All things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). Therefore, in experiences of fasting, we are abstaining from food or other activities and feasting on God’s Word.
Fasting must always, first and foremost, center on God. It must be about Him.
Step 1: Clarify the purpose of your fast.
Why are you fasting? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically. Fasting is God-led and God-initiated. That means that He fuels a desire to fast and pray. He loves it when we fast.
Step 2: Specify the kind of fast you will do.
Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast. (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14,15) For Him it was a matter of when believers would fast, not if they would do it. Before you fast, decide the following up front:
Finally, and of deep importance, Jesus instructs us in Matthew to not let others know about your fasting. The strict details of your fast should not be something you constantly talk about to others. It should remain between you and God.
Now that we have explored the Old and New Testament teaching and instruction on fasting, we can proceed to discuss specific kinds of fasts. Let us begin with the helpful words of Richard Foster in his classic, Celebration of Discipline: “As with all the Disciplines, a progression should be observed; it is wise to learn to walk well before we try to run.” Biblical fasting almost always concerns food. Since the purpose of fasting, as we saw above, is to focus on God, to humble ourselves and to remind ourselves that we are sustained by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, then the task in fasting is connecting our “going without” to “hungering for God.” This takes time, focus and prayer in itself. Please do not expect to be an “expert” at fasting right away. Fasting is a discipline that can take a very long time to understand well. Also, do not let this fact deter you or intimidate you. Fasting is not unlike a beautifully written masterpiece of literature. It is simple enough for a youth to understand and enjoy, and yet magnificently rich enough for the scholar to devote his/her entire life to.
Abstaining from certain types of foods or a Selective Fast.
Daniel 10:3 This type is a good one for beginners to fasting or those with health needs and special or restrictive diets. Choose to abstain from something like breads, sweets, sodas, coffee, or even red meat. Perhaps spend some time reading through Daniel’s fast in Daniel chapter 1 and chapter 10. Stick to only fruits and vegetables like he did or something similar. Determine the timing and duration of your fast and begin. You may choose to go without this specific type of food on only certain days like Fridays, or you may go without during the weekdays only or perhaps every day. Finally, choose the duration of your fast. This fast is 21 days (January 8 – 28) but that does not mean you must go without for all of the 21 days.
Determine the timing and duration ahead of time and stick to it. Rather, pray through it.
Abstaining from food during certain times of the day or a Partial Fast.
This fast is sometimes called the “Jewish Fast” and involves abstaining from eating any type of food in the morning and afternoon. This can either correlated to specific times of the day, such as 6:00am to 3:00pm, or from sunup to sundown.
Abstaining from all food or a Complete Fast.
Esther 4:16; Acts 9:9
This kind of fast is more difficult. but can be broken up by timing and duration. However, we don’t recommend this type of fasting if it is your first time. This seems to be the most prevalent of the fasts we see in the Bible. It is also the most intimidating, but refuse to let it scare you. Fasting from all food is not scary if you determine beforehand when you will do so and for how long. Here are some ideas.
Abstaining from certain activities that can be distracting or a Soul Fast.
Daniel 6:18 The king’s voluntary “fasting” from entertainment in the time of Daniel helps us further understand yet another type of fast. This fast is a great option if you do not have much experience fasting food, have a health condition, or if you wish to refocus certain areas of your life that are out of balance. Fasting from things like entertainment can be particularly helpful and accessible to kids and teens. Think of abstaining from television, social media, ipods/ipads, video games, all reading except the Bible, music, texting, etc. for the duration of your fast. This can be a very powerful decision even as a supplement to food fasts.
Choosing your fasting plan is a very personal decision. We are all at different places in our walk with God and our spirituality should never be a cause for comparison or competition. There is nothing more “inherently spiritual” about one type of fast as opposed to another. Your personal fast should present a level of challenge to it, but know your body, know your options, and most importantly, seek God in prayer about this and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do. It’s also important to not let what you eat or do not eat become the focus of your fast. This is a time to disconnect enough with your regular patterns and habits in order to connect more closely to God. If you do not choose to fast, or no matter what kind of fast you choose, seek God with us in prayer.